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Mana Mahi Panui, Issue 5: Autumn 2009

March 1, 2009

View as a PDF: Workplace-Wellbeing-Panui-Autumn-2009

Nga mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou!!

Happy New Year to you all.

Welcome to the first issue for 2009 of Mana Mahi, a panui we produce to keep you up to date with what is happening with the Workplace Wellbeing Project and with employment relations issues and events in the tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector.

Last year, over 250 managers, governance members and staff from all around the country participated in our “Working for Effective Employment Relations” workshops. See page 3 for the 2009 workshop itinerary.

In the latter half of the year, we launched Mana Mahi, a much-needed employment resource for sector organisations, presented a work-stream of employment-related papers at the Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research Conference in Auckland, and hosted a guest speaker from UNISON Scotland (see page 2).

All of this helped to stimulate the debate about good employment practice in our sector, how we value the work we do, and how we progress our common concerns around funding and pay equity.

The Sector Employment Landscape Now

We find ourselves returning to a very different economic landscape in 2009. Rather than grappling with the problems of recruitment and retention and the difficulties of negotiating extra salary funding, sector organisations now face the challenges of funding cuts, shrinking philanthropic trust funds, and potential staff layoffs.

All of this comes at a time when services are going to be more in demand than ever, and the stresses on staff just as high, if not higher.

Yet even now, the principles of good employment practice remain the same. More than ever, sector organisations need to find ways to hold on to their valued staff – those who carry all the institutional knowledge in our organisations – who can help us make it through the tough times and ensure we continue to serve our communities well.

More than ever, we need to ensure we get our employment practices right from the outset. As well as having sound recruitment, induction, training and supervision practices in place, this means that organisations in our sector might choose not to include the new trial period provisions in any new employment agreements (see page 4). In so doing, we can send a clear signal that in this sector we are concerned to treat people within our organisations as well as the people we serve in our communities.

Our sector is the place from where many of the solutions will emerge to the difficult social, environmental and economic circumstances we now find ourselves in. We can lead the way by ensuring that all of our staff – including the new ones – feel valued and supported from day one.

He Oranga Pounamu to Conduct Research into Maori/Iwi Employment Relations Needs

Workplace Wellbeing is proud to announce that it has contracted He Oranga Pounamu, the Ngai Tahu affiliated South Island network of Maori health and social service providers, to conduct a research project exploring Maori/Iwi employment relations education needs.

The research will survey Maori/Iwi community-based organisations with regard to their ERE needs with a view to scoping and developing a one-day workshop programme designed specifically for delivery to these organisations, based within a kaupapa Maori framework. Initial survey results are due by the end of June 2009.

For more information about He Oranga Pounamu visit their website,

Working in UNISON: Scottish Guest Speaker Visit

After months of planning, in late November last year we welcomed Glyn Hawker, UNISON Scotland’s Organiser for Bargaining and Equal Pay, to tour with us around Aotearoa New Zealand as we launched Mana Mahi.

We invited Glyn to New Zealand to talk about ways in which unions, community sector employers and umbrella groups are working together in Scotland to improve salary funding and conditions for sector staff.

Glyn’s visit commenced with a presentation on sector employment issues to the Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research Conference. There she also participated in a roundtable discussion on sector employment, involving a range of leaders from within and outside the sector. She then went on with us to launches of Mana Mahi in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

As well as speaking about sector employment issues and challenges in Scotland little did Glyn know that she would also be inveigled into wearing an electric blue feather boa and a tiara for the ANZTSR Conference speed debate! Or that, prior to launching Mana Mahi, she would be required to join a working bee to finish collating it!

Glyn’s visit strongly supported the work being done by our project to build conversations within and between sectors about community sector employment relations issues here. It helped us to gain insights into how, as a sector, we might attempt to move forward on issues of remuneration, funding, common standards, and collaborative approaches to workplace change.

We are grateful to the New Zealand Industrial Relations Foundation for the support it provided for her visit.

You can download Glyn’s interview on Scottish sector employment issues on Wellington Community Access Radio. This interview is available

“Working for Effective Employment Relationships” – 2009 Workshops to 30 June

List also available here.

Thurs 26 March, Invercargill (for affiliated HOP providers only), Natalie Marriott – He Oranga Pounamu. Ph 03 353 4370 or email

Wed 8 April, Christchurch (for affiliated HOP providers only), Natalie Marriott – He Oranga Pounamu. Ph 03 353 4370 or email

Thurs 9 April, Greymouth, Cheryl Jackson – Westland REAP. Ph 03 755 8700 or email

Thurs 7 May, Hawera, Deirdre Nagle – Bishops Action Foundation. Ph 06 759 1158 or email

Fri 8 May, New Plymouth, Deirdre Nagle – Bishops Action Foundation. Ph 06 759 1158 or email

Fri 22 May, Masterton, Peter McNeur – Wairarapa REAP. Ph 06 377 1379 or email

Fri 12 June, Tauranga, Beverley Rudd – Tauranga Volunteer Centre. Ph 07 571 3743 or email

Interested in hosting or attending a sector employment workshop in your area?

Planning is now underway for the second half of 2009.

Last year we held our “Working for Effective Employment Relationships” workshops in 13 different locations around the country. But there is so much more of Aotearoa we have yet to cover!

If you are interested in hosting a workshop in your area, or think there is a local organisation in your area that could host one, please email Conor Twyford, Workplace Wellbeing Project Manager, at

Managing to Make a Difference: Unitec Short Courses 2009

This series of one day courses will dramatically improve your skills in leading, managing or relating to organisations in the not-for-profit sector.

Topics covered include:

  • Governance
  • Community Funding
  • Understanding your organisation’s finances
  • Developing and managing staff performance
  • Conflict
  • Legal issues

To find out more, please contact Shirleen Ali, Programme Administrator, at

Strategic Pay Not-for-Profit Sector Remuneration Survey

This important annual sector remuneration survey is now underway. The deadline for participation and submission of organisation data is 17 April 2009.

The survey reports provide valuable information to organisations in all parts of the sector as they negotiate funding contracts and consider the pay of their staff. They are useful to managers, boards of trustees and directors, and can assist them in responding to developments in the remuneration market or making submissions to funding bodies.

New Format for Smaller Organisations

A shorter version of the data-pack specifically for smaller organisations is now also available. Some smaller organisations felt the format of the survey last year was a bit “overwhelming” in the forms required for only a few jobs. As a result, Strategic Pay has developed another, shorter version of the data-pack specifically for smaller organisations – ranging from very local social services to national umbrella organisations with few staff.

Cost: 1 – 5 FTE – $200; 6 – 40 FTE – $400; Over 40 FTE – $650

Ask David about special cost arrangements for groups of very small agencies.

To obtain a survey data-pack or further information about the survey, please contact:

David Shannon – Senior Consultant – 09 303 4053 or

The New 90 Day ‘Trial Period’ Law

One of the new laws passed under urgency by the new Government late last year was the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2008. This allows workplaces employing less than 20 employees to use a 90 day trial period for new employees.

The trial period is voluntary, and the employer and employee must agree to a ‘trial’ at the time of the hiring.

The agreement must specify the length of the trial (up to 90 days); that during the period the employee can be dismissed; and that the employee will not be able to bring a personal grievance for unjustifiable dismissal.

The trial period will be covered by good faith provisions, and all other rights, including sick leave and holidays, will apply. Beneficiaries starting a job with a trial period will not have a stand-down if the job doesn’t work out, unless they are dismissed for misconduct or choose to end the trial themselves without reason.

The Bill was widely opposed, and not just by opposition parties. The Maori Party – which has a support agreement with the new Government – opposed the Bill believing it would hurt Maori and Pacific workers. Unions were outraged, dubbing it the “fire at will Bill”, and estimated that at any one time 100,000 workers would have no rights if dismissed.

Nicola Shirlaw, NZFVWO Law Scene Feb’09

What Does It Mean for Our Sector?

As Nicola stated in Law Scene, just because you can is not a good enough reason. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the Bill, the Government had no reason to pass it under urgency.

We at Workplace Wellbeing believe organisations in our sector should not use the new 90 Day law and in particular use trial periods to solve underlying problems of poor recruitment practice and inadequate performance management, just because there is now a law that provides what may seem like an easy ‘out’.

Probation provisions already existed in the Employment Relations Act prior to the passing of this amendment. Rather than resorting to poor practice, organisations should be looking to employ and manage well, agreeing performance expectations from the start and if necessary, implementing procedures for managing employment relationship problems if and as the need arises.

The new law came into effect on March 1. Unions have pledged to offer assistance to employees unfairly sacked under the new law, even if they are not members.

The Department of Labour has updated its online Employment Agreement Builder to help employers develop employment agreements with new staff. It can be reached through the employment relations section of the Department’s website –

90 Day Trial Period – The Basics

Source: HRINZ

Which employers can use trial periods?

To be eligible to use the option of a trial period you must employ fewer than 20 staff. This can include fixed term, casual, full and part time workers as long as the total number does not exceed 19.

Can I put existing staff on trial?
No. Trial periods are only applicable to new staff employed after 1st March. Nor does it include staff who you have previously employed.

Does a trial period have to be 90 days?
No. If a trial period is included in an employment agreement, it can be shorter than 90 days. The maximum length for a trial period is 90 calendar days (beginning on the day the employee starts work).
Does a trial period have to be in writing?
Yes. A trial period must be in writing as part of the employee’s employment agreement. If it’s not, it’s not valid and cannot be applied. Obligations During a trial period an employee has the same protections regarding pay, conditions, leave, and health and safety as other employees.

What happens when a trial period ends?
If an employee successfully completes a trial period, his/her employment continues as agreed in their written employment agreement and the protections under the Employment Relations Act, including the ability to raise a personal grievance, apply. If the employee is dismissed after the end of a trial period and raises a personal grievance, then the employer and employee have full recourse to the employment relationship problem resolution processes under the Employment Relations Act 2000, including access to the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court.

Notice: If an employer dismisses an employee working on a trial period, the notice must be given during the trial period, even if the dismissal does not become effective until after the trial period ends. If the employment agreement does not have a notice period, the employer must give reasonable notice of the dismissal. For further information go to

Employment News from the Sector and Beyond

Australian Federal Government Passes Fair Work Legislation

Australia’s employment landscape is about to change with the introduction of the Labor government’s Fair Work legislation.

With some parts of the legislation set to take effect from as early as July 1 this year, the Federal Government has declared that the new legislation will bring fairness into the workplace benefiting both employees and employers, through a recognition of workplace rights and provisions which will eliminate conflict and recognise the importance of work-life balance.

Key features of the Fair Work legislation include:

  • Creation of a safety net (National Employment Standards) covering minimum employment conditions which cannot be taken away in any agreements or employment arrangements
  • Bargaining at the workplace in good faith to boost a cooperative spirit in the workplace
  • Protection from unfair dismissal for all employees
  • Protection for low income workers
  • Creation of work-life balance with flexibility for both employers and employees designed to improve productivity
  • The right to representation in the workplace (via FWA or the Union).

– Not-for-Profit Network, Australia

Health and Disability Workforce Scan Underway – 06/03/09

Careerforce, the Community Support Services Industry Training Organisation, has just commenced its inaugural Future Skills and Training Needs Scan.

The web based survey, which is being sent to health and disability workplaces and stakeholders right across the sector, will help Careerforce identify current and future role and skill shortages.

Careerforce’s Sector Leadership Manager Ruth Kibble says the Future Skills and Training Needs Scan aims to capture sector intelligence on New Zealand’s health and disability workforce.

“The results will help paint a picture of the workforce, the pressures being faced, what skill and training gaps there are, and how these are expected to change in the future.

“Developing a better understanding of these issues will help ensure that the development of the qualifications and related training programmes meet the needs identified by the sector.

To take part in the survey go to the Careerforce website – and click on the link under ‘Hot Topics’.

The period for feedback ends on 17 April 2009.

Workplace Disability Management Programme a First for New Zealand – 17/3/09

Otago Polytechnic is about to become the first New Zealand-based institution to offer a specialised training and professional certification programme in workplace disability management. The online Disability Management in the Workplace programme prepares professionals to facilitate a successful return to work for those living with a disability either through illness or injury. It includes disability management theory and practice, the New Zealand service delivery environment and interpersonal skills for those involved in the return-to-work process.

Workers with a disability may face significant social, psychological and financial challenges. Graduates of the programme will have the necessary skills to promote these workers returning to normal employment, and assist employers who seek to retain trained, experienced and committed staff.

Otago Polytechnic will offer the online programme on a national scale, drawing on resources from their internationally-respected School of Occupational Therapy. The Canadian-developed programme has been adopted by 13 countries around the world including England, Ireland, Australia and Germany.

Successful Approach Curbs Loss of Pacific Health Workers – 5/3/09

Investing in continuing education opportunities and ongoing workforce support has seen NZ eye health NGO The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ buck the trend of workforce migration in the Pacific. The Foundation reports 95% retention of eye care personnel trained within its Pacific Regional Blindness Prevention Programme over the last seven years.

Recent research by the University of Sydney suggests there are about 2950 nurses and midwives from 10 Pacific Island countries working in Australia and New Zealand, and just over 3800 remaining to work in those countries.

According to Executive Director Carmel Williams, the Foundation seeks to specifically address many of the causes of job dissatisfaction and attrition in the region, namely inadequate facilities and equipment or drug shortages; severely compromised health systems and the limited scope to extend qualifications.

Williams notes “the number of health workers per 1,000 population in many Pacific countries is at critical levels.

This means that basic health services can often not be sustained. In addition, the cost of overseas referrals often represents a disproportionate amount of national health budgets in the Pacific. Our experience has shown that investment in local tertiary-level training, backed up by ongoing workforce support (e.g. mentoring, equipment procurement and continuing education) can result in a stable, local work force delivering quality local health services for the long term.”

Workplace Wellbeing Goes Online

Workplace Wellbeing now has a home on Community Central, a new online platform for community and voluntary sector and public health organisations. Here you will be able to download copies of our panui; read more about the Workplace Wellbeing Project; find out about workshop dates and where to register; and access other useful resources and employment-related links.

Joining costs nothing and enables you to sign up to receive e-newsletters from us and other national groups.Groups can also manage their own email lists and newsletter distribution through CommunityCentral. Organisations can also register their interest in having their own shared workspaces.

You can find Workplace Wellbeing and register as a member of CommunityCentral at

Check it out today!

New Resource for Employers from ACC

Workplace Safety Management Practices

A new resource showing the WSMP process as a flowchart in poster form is now available. It is made up of a poster set of six, which you can display in a prominent place to show how the workplace safety management practices process works. You can order them on the ACC website:

Rest and Meal Breaks and Breastfeeding at Work

From 1 April 2009 the Employment Relations Act entitles employees to paid rest and meal breaks and employers will be required to provide facilities for employees who wish to breastfeed at work.

Rest and meal breaks

Employees will be entitled to:

  • one paid 10-minute rest break if their work period is between two and four hours,
  • one paid 10-minute rest break and one unpaid 30-minute meal break if their work period is between four and six hours;
  • two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid 30-minute meal break if their work period is between six and eight hours.

If more than an eight hour period is worked, these requirements automatically extend to cover the additional hours on the same basis. The timing of rest and meal breaks is flexible and can follow any arrangement agreed between employer and employee. If an agreement can’t be reached, the rest and meal breaks should be spread evenly throughout the work period. For more information, visit:

Employers will be required to provide appropriate facilities and breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed or express, as far as is reasonable and practicable – taking into account both their operating environment and available resources. The breastfeeding breaks are to be provided in addition to the standard paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks. For more information, visit:

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